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[Media Lines] Philippines: FORUM-ASIA celebrates court’s decision to grant bail to former senator Leila De Lima

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The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) welcomes the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court’s decision to grant bail to former Philippine senator Leila de Lima on 13 November 2023.

Released from jail after nearly seven years in detention, the bail allows for de Lima’s temporary liberty. She is currently facing her third and final drug case.

A human rights activist and lawyer, de Lima previously led the Philippine Commission on Human Rights and the Department of Justice. She also investigated former Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte’s alleged extrajudicial killings during his stint as Davao City mayor. As a senator, she chaired the committee on justice and human rights.

In 2016, Duterte accused de Lima of drug trade involvement. This came after de Lima’s criticisms against Duterte’s deadly war on drugs. In 2017, de Lima was arrested and detained. A long legal battle ensued, with human rights organisations calling for her release.

‘FORUM-ASIA is more than happy to see progress in former senator Leila de Lima’s case. As a staunch critic of Duterte’s gross human rights violations, de Lima has been subjected to harassment, politically motivated and trumped up charges, and mistreatment. De Lima should have never been in detention in the first place. Her fearless search for truth and justice is not a crime. The remaining fabricated drug case against her should be dismissed, ’ said Mary Aileen Diez-Bacalso, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA.Those responsible for de Lima’s unjust detention should be held to account, including those who coerced witnesses to falsely testify against her. Likewise, FORUM-ASIA demands justice and accountability for all the human rights violations endured by de Lima and her fellow Filipino human rights defenders.